Essay on Satan Character in "Paradise Lost"

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  977 Words
Date:  2022-05-21


Paradise Lost written by John Milton is an epic poem which was first published in 1667. It is a poem which demonstrates a story in the bible of how the fall of a man occurred. In the story, the author tells of how the temptation of Adam and Eve by the Satan or the fallen angel occurred making them be chased away from the land they had been told by God to stay; the Garden of Eden. The Paradise Lost first version had ten books and the second edition has twelve books (Milton). Nafi and Jamal (2015) argue that the purpose of Milton as stated in the first book was to "justify the ways of God to men". The story by Milton has two narrative arcs, the Satan (Lucifer) and the Adam and Eve. The paper discusses how Milton creates his Satan Character in the Paradise Lost while examining the question of whether he is a hero of the epic poem or not. In this poem, concern about Milton's version of Satan together with Milton himself is raised.

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Satan's Human-like Features and Inner Turmoil in Paradise Lost

According to Nafi and Jamal (2015), the heroic persona of Satan is greatly emphasized in some of the books to show the complexity of his character. Besides, in the texts, it is demonstrated how Milton himself is able to relate to this character by focusing heavily on Satan. Hence, this strategy ensures that Milton creates an appeal or admiration to this character (Satan) by developing a familiarity with the reader. For instance, Satan in the epic poem exhibits some character flaws making him have relatable human-like features. Before the Paradise Lost, it was assumed that Satan was purely evil even without the need of guessing his action and decision. For instance, in book 1 line 253, Satan demonstrates some weaknesses by saying "The mind is its place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven". It is a statement that shows the unhappiness in Satan and his attempt to create happiness by building false images (Jonathan &Tony). Besides, he shows his human-like features when his heart is distended with pride in book 1 when he looks at the followers he had brought together.

Milton's Portrayal of Satan's Vulnerability and Justifying God's Ways

In book I, Milton demonstrates that Satan usually cries from passion as well as conflict. For instance in book1, line 620 says "tears such as angels weep burst forth: at last words interwove with sighs found out their ways." In Book IV, Milton shows the doubtful character of Satan where he questions whether he will ever be forgiven "left for repentance, none for pardon left." Milton devoted much of the Paradise Lost in trying to build the Satan's human-like characters especially in making it relatable to the reader. He uses words coming directly from Satan to make the character more attractive and also place great emphasis on the narration making it possible for the Satan to be more appealing.

According to Banisalamah (2015), Milton shows that Satan has an inner turmoil by saying "so spake the apostate angel, though in pain, vaunting aloud,..." Besides, in the book I, Satan has a dialogue concerning if he should fight back or not hence showing his inner turmoil. The heroic persona that Milton builds for Satan seems not to be attained. Satan meets sin and feels so disgusted and ready to fight by saying "Hell-born, not to contend with spirits of heaven." It is a statement which maintains the sympathy of the Satan character by making him feel he came from heaven besides the fact that he has embraced Hell which he makes feel heaven-like in his mind (Jonathan &Tony). Milton uses narration in book IV to show if Satan will ever be forgiven but later realizes that he will always fall again (Milton). Much of the image created about Satan's dimmed passion shows more of his vulnerability. Hence, through the narrative text, Milton is able to explain what he sees in Satan. William Blake says that "Milton was of the Devil's party without knowing it." Hence, Milton is directly identified with Satan that why he is trying to "justify the ways of God to men."


Overall, the past of Milton included strained relationships, divorce, the death of his two wives and a child thus; it seems that all this experience influenced his mistrust of God. According to Urban (2011), the loss that Milton has gone through is compared to that of Satan during his fall. Satan is not a hero, but he is just being frustrated with God as shown by the epic Poem. In fact, Satan comes to realize that even if he repents, he will still fall again. By looking at Milton's past and that of Satan, the reader can find a similarity between him and his character. Besides, Satan having some heroic qualities such as brave, loyal, temperate, self-sacrificing and strong among others, much of his features are from false beliefs. Hence, Milton uses his poetic together with the dramatic power to portray the character of Satan. Milton is inspired by Satan making it easy for him to create evil characters. It does not make Satan a hero but his characters are just more appealing and have features which are highly admired.

Works Cited

Banisalamah, Ahmed MF. "Milton's Anti-Monarchical Stances and His Poetical, Phonetic, Rhetorical, and Theological Crafts." Canadian Social Science 11.1 (2015): 30.

Jonathan Lemkin and Tony Gilroy. The Devil's Advocate. Retrieved on 4th May 2018, From Online

Milton, John, et al. Paradise Lost. Heritage Press, 1940.

Nafi, Dr, and Jamal Subhi. "Milton's Portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost and the Notion Of Heroism." Retrieved on 4th May 2018, form 2015. Online

Urban, David V. "Speaking for the Dead: CS Lewis Answers the New Milton Criticism; or,"Milton Ministries" Strikes Back." Milton Quarterly, 45.2 (2011): 95-106.

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